A different path to take

As we tentatively head towards a lift in the economic climate and the early signs of increased lending, particularly amongst the SME sector, so general business confidence is on the up. Such indicators are prompting many people to re-evaluate their circumstances and, particularly, their careers and lifestyle and causing them to explore the franchising sector.
    
Making the decision to become a franchisee, however, is only just the beginning of the journey – with the UK franchise market consisting of 900 franchise brands, the path to choosing a franchise appropriate to your individual circumstances can be beset with indecision. Franchising is not a quick-fix solution nor is it a part-time hobby. You need to have the right temperament, enthusiasm and backing to get started, as with any business. Franchising encompasses a whole multitude of business disciplines and markets and consequently should be entered into with eyes wide open.

WHAT TO CONSIDER
Do your sums and find out realistically what funding you have available or potentially available. If you will need to raise finance it is worth noting that there are three major banks that the bfa accredits because they understand and specialise in franchising. Ask to speak to a specialist franchise department or advisor. 
    
Look at any lifestyle hurdles. Ask the question “Do I fit this business model?” For example, if you are considering investing in a restaurant, are you able to work nights and weekends? It sounds logical, but be sure of the chosen field.
    
Make sure you do your research. Market research is vital, take time to look at the different types of business models available to you, because there are so many out there. Keep an open mind about what industry sector you are interested in rather than simply choosing a business sector that you understand or have experience in. It may be that a completely new area suits you much better.
    
Make sure that you thoroughly investigate any franchise opportunity that you are seriously considering. Look further into the franchise and get as much information as possible. The franchisor should be transparent about success, where in the country it has performed well and also where it hasn’t. Ask to speak to a number of other franchisees not just the one the franchisor recommends, they should be open and honest enough to allow you to speak to any one of their franchisees to ensure you get the information you need to make an informed decision. 
 
DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL
Those franchisors that have been accredited by the bfa have had to go through stringent tests on their franchise, so you know that it operates in an ethical way. However, as with any business contract make sure you read the small print and get legal advice if required. Franchise agreements are generally very large documents and can be very involved.
    
Bear in mind that it’s not a quick-win. Although franchises are generally more successful than other business types, it is by no means a license to print money. It takes a considerable amount of hard work and determination, but preparation is key and if you spend the time initially gathering as much information as you can, you will eliminate the possibility of making the wrong investment.

WHERE TO GO TO GET STARTED
Many of these elements will be covered within the range of seminars and conference programme available at the the National Franchise Exhibition taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from 31 September – 1 October in Birmingham. Topics include: an introduction to franchising; families in franchising; hands-on franchises; executives in franchising and growing your own business. Those new to the franchise industry will also benefit from the ‘Franchise Starting Point’ where industry experts, consultants, lawyers, bankers and franchisors will all be on hand to offer free one-to-one advice. The Franchisee Panel is where visitors will be able to find out the realities of making the move from being employed to becoming a franchise owner – franchisees from various backgrounds will detail first hand their experience of making the transition.
    
This robust business model, fuelled by dedicated individuals, encompassing many different skills and backgrounds and opens up countless opportunities for people looking for a new start. Becoming a franchisee is a serious business option and one that requires hard work, lots of enthusiasm, dedication and business acumen. That is not to say that there isn’t a suitable franchise business out there for everyone, but you do need to choose carefully.  

FURTHER READING
For information on the different franchising options available, please click here

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